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An Unconventional Stage: Combat Fatigue


With Leichhardt’s Italian Forum dusting off its dancing shoes, CarriageWorks perfecting a whole new style of vocal warm-up and the iconic Imperial Hotel finally re-opening its doors, we get the feeling that the Fringe really is in the air. Featuring more than 250 theatre, comedy, cabarets, music and film events, the Sydney Fringe Festival, exploding across the city’s inner-west until September 26, is a melting pot for all things creative and unconventional.

Combat Fatigue, the first full-length play from budding local writer Alison Rooke, is part of this year’s expertly curated line-up and is more than capable of holding its own.

The lyrical, dream-like story follows the turbulent relationship between Paddington golden couple Pippa and Sam Cotton. These somewhat dramatic characters must contend with letters from an oppressive yet poetic killer, shadows of an idealistic past, artistic temperaments and personal tragedy that seems to elude conversation. And it’s all explored in under an hour.

Developed during last year’s Off the Shelf residency program at Queen Street Studio, Combat Fatigue can boast some pretty impressive dialogue. Rooke has a hypnotic way of mixing words that makes even the most confusing blend of fantasy and reality come across a clear, charismatic and convincing.

Kudos has to be given to Matt Charleston and his ability to make the suited-up Sam Cotton, who comes across as a bundle of restraint, passion and anger, remain oddly likeable. Similarly, newcomer Bridgette Sneddon portrays a naivety and appreciation of cerulean blue that, simply put, is mesmerising to watch. Sydney’s dramatic fringe really is showing us what it’s made of.

Combat Fatigue is on September 17, 18, 22 and 23 at The Boiler Room. To get your hands on tickets, click here.


words: Liz Schaffer

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